The bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi was accredited to cause Lyme disease, which is transmitted through the bite of the blacklegged deer tick, according to the Center for Disease Control. Working with the Mayo Clinic and health official from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, researchers discovered the new bacteria called Borrelia mayonii, the CDC said in a statement.
Lyme disease symptoms can cause fever, headache, and rash and neck pain within days of infection, and within weeks it can cause arthritis as well as nausea, vomiting, diffuse rashes and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood. Although several types of bacteria are known to cause the disease across the globe, the Borrelia burgdorferi was the only one known to infect humans in North America until now.
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed over the course of a year. Still, the current tests and treatment are apparently effective against the new form of the disease, reported the CDC in a press release.
The Borrelia mayonii species was discovered after scientist studied blood samples from patients in three different states, each that were suspected of having Lyme disease in the past. These blood samples from six out of 9,000 patients showed unusual results.
The new bacterium imitates the Borrelia burgdorferi symptoms as the infection starts to develop; yet the new bacteria trigger more severe symptoms later on. Researchers can only account the new bacteria in the upper Midwest region of the United States so far. However, the patients infected with the new bacteria were successfully treated with the same antibiotic used for those with Borrelia burgdorferi according to the Center fro Disease Control.
“It is too early to say whether the newly discovered bacteria will be more or less dangerous than Borrelia burgdorferi,” said Jeannine Petersen, a CDC microbiologist. “We have fairly limited information in that our study described six patients,” she said in a Reuters interview. “We need more patients in order to capture the full spectrum of those who might have less severe symptoms and those who might have more severe ones.”
The bacteria is likely a ‘recently emerged organism’ added Dr. Petersen. The Center for Disease Control is now working together with state health departments in order to achieve a better understanding of the bacteria and the disease, as well as being able to plan ahead for future investigations. Mayo Clinic and the CDC also started their own study of tick-borne diseases in 2015 targeting to test more than 30,000 clinical specimens from patients with the illness.